Originally registered as Kilimahewa Women and Orphan's Centre for Education, KIWOCE today in a Tanzanian NGO that hosts The Kiwoce Open School, Hostel, and Community Outreach. It is a model of an educational approach centered on student capabilities and needs – Academic, Personal And Environmental.
KIWOCE (Kilimahewa Women’s and Orphan’s Center for Education), also referred to a Kilimahewa, began as a group of mamas from a subsistence farming community who came together to find a way for their children – unable to attend formal schools – to keep learning. These women and their children gathered each day under a tree on the property of their leader, (Mama) Grace Lyimo.
From under the tree, instruction moved into a small two-room turquoise building on the property where volunteers (local and foreign) taught the children English and math. In 2010, KIWOCE’s future changed radically when three of these volunteers joined forces to make it a focal point of their newly-created 501-c3 non-profit, EdPowerment.
In 2011-2012, EdPowerment refurbished the original building, upgraded the outdoor patio to serve as additional classroom space, and funded a more sanitary toilet space. More importantly, EdPowerment financed a successful Water Project, critical for the Center’s growth.
From 2012 - 2015, funding from another US based non-profit, Go Campaign, for two classroom buildings, and a $53,000 Rotary Global Grant catapulted KIWOCE’s capacity. EdPowerment remained the engine behind its operations, staffing and educational schemes.
TODAY, KIWOCE/Kilimahewa is a full-service, community-based educational center. EdPowerment continues to support the Center by funding staff, security, the Boys and Girls Club and equipment and special projects. We work closely with the Center's staff in our three concentrations – core academics, employability skills and personal development . In Tanzania, these schools are sometimes called “Second Chance” schools. The truth is that KIWOCE is often the only chance school. At Kilimahewa, teachers and staff work to activate critical thinking, nurture positive behaviors and build the foundations that turn this second or only chance into productive futures.
THE HOSTEL PROJECT: In January 2019, KIWOCE opened doors to a lovely second-floor girls’ hostel above one of its classroom buildings. In the past, distance and security concerns prevented many young women, who would otherwise reap KIWOCE’s enormous benefits, from attending the Center. A generous grant from the T&J Meyer Family Foundation and targeted support from EdPowerment accomplished this life-changing project.
KIWOCE OPEN SCHOOL PROGRAMS
Secondary School Equivalency Course
In truth, many post-primary adolescent students cannot continue in the Tanzanian secondary schools because of economic and other constraints. KIWOCE offers these youth another way to secure a recognized secondary school degree. Using diverse teaching strategies, hands-on and on-line educational tools, and individual attention, the Center works to (1) compensate for the deficits that most students have coming from poor areas with marginalized schools and (2) encourage mindsets that are open and able to learn. We also provide those who have failed National Form 2 and Form 4 exams a way to study and "resit" for these critical exams.
IT, Computer Training & Short Courses
EdPowerment structured KIWOCE’s first computer program in 2013 with an initial set of laptops, projector, software and instructional guides. In 2015, the program was taken to another level by a Rotary Global Grant that included complete Internet infrastructure and solar energy panels.
Today the Center’s IT program compares favorably to any other in the area. Through a range of computer and IT training options and other short courses – particularly English – KIWOCE targets under or unemployed young adults and workers who seek better prospects. The Center also seeks to collaborate with groups who want to use its facilities and teachers for training. Our impact stories attest to the very real change that our program can bring about in students’ lives. [See downloadable Impact stories]
KIWOCE Community Library
Begun in 2013, the KIWOCE library is the only library for locals. Books include both Kiswahili and English fiction and non-fiction offerings at many levels. Especially valuable for students from area government schools lacking books are the library’s sets of review books for Form 2 and 4 National Exams. Motivated students now have a place to prepare themselves for these exams on Saturday mornings or even in the late afternoons. Locals who want to read newspapers and educate themselves further on subjects, both practical and theoretical, can do so while young people can work on their English and gain exposure that reading provides.
Boys and Girls Club
Saturdays now offer KIWOCE students and neighboring teens inspiration, practical skills and an introduction to activities they have never encountered even within their own environment. Meeting together and separately, these Clubs demonstrate the emphasis that EdPowerment, through KIWOCE, places on employability skills and personal development. Sessions range from Female Health and Positive Thinking Seminars to local craft/skill demonstrations. Visiting local entrepreneurs and professionals motivate these young people, coaching them on business-building activities and making them aware of what we call “soft skills.”
The local component of the Rotary Global Grant awarded KIWOCE developed the Center's husbandry projects. Having tried several ventures, KIWOCE is now redeveloping its crop production projects to educate locals and students on ways to choose appropriate crops, maximize small plot output, and seek and access local markets. Partnerships with organizations such as SEVIA help KIWOCE bring needed advice and coaching to its students and the community.
Pre-Form One Course
Standard 7 students complete primary school in early September, taking the PSLE (Primary School Leaving Exam). As they wait their results for the following January, these students, generally 12 – 14 years, have nothing to do. KIWOCE offers students from the neighboring government schools an approximately 10-week program at a manageable fee structure.
This Course reinforces English language and math concepts, teaches other subjects, introduces the computer, and offers life skills training and activities that challenge students to reason and read independently.
THRIVE (Pre-Form 5/Post Form 6) PROGRAM
Developed initially for our Sponsored Students, THRIVE was EdPowerment’s capstone program intended to boost the ability of Form 4 and Form 6 graduates to succeed in their next level of education, the workplace and independent living. It is now part of KIWOCE’s course offerings.
The program for Form 4 graduates waiting to take their next step includes:
- raising the students’ literacy level and ability to use English in conversation and writing
- improving student use of IT and computers
- building academic skills in the subjects/topics that the students will take if posted to colleges or Advanced Level High School (Forms 5-6).
- teaching key life-skills and soft-skills needed for advancement.
The program for Form 6 graduates hoping to attend colleges and Universities focuses additionally on writing CV/resumes, developing skills for interviews and employment and teaching practical aspects of self-reliance such as money management.
The Kilimahewa Enrichment Camp
Each summer KIWOCE invites local secondary school students on the last week of semester break to enjoy hands-on learning and participate in 6 daily sessions: English, a math/science combo, healthy living, art and/or music, physical exercise and computers. Over 100 teenagers, who come to the Camp, experience a “fun” way to learn, using internet resources, classroom and field equipment and group activities. It’s only one week, but it may light a spark, brighten an otherwise empty month-long break, and expose local teens to a place where they always can come to supplement their formal classes.